So, I took the day off from the blog, yesterday. In fact, I was very proud of myself and completely avoided all electronics for a whole day! (I’m not sure what that says about me that it is quite an accomplishment.)
However, when I got back this morning, I discovered that SilverFox over at C’est La Vie has nominated me for an “Inspiring Blog Award.” Thank you for the acknowledgment and shout-out, SilverFox! It was very thoughtful of you.
It got me to thinking about this whole “blogging” thing. Although I started Janyaa’s Scrapbook last year, it’s only been the last two months or so that I’ve really gotten anything rolling on it.
Before I started this blog, I had another one based on the MMORPG, World of Warcraft. I kept that one for about a year. However, after I stopped playing, I didn’t feel that I could maintain it any longer and gave it up.
My WoW blog, Muradin Musings, was my first blog and- as such- taught me a number of things. First off, it was much easier to get started writing for Muradin Musings because the topic was pretty much decided upon right out of the gate. It was a World of Warcraft blog, therefore, I would write about all things concerning World of Warcraft.
Another factor that helped was that I knew who my audience was. We were all, presumably, gamers who enjoyed this particular game. We all spoke the same vocabulary surrounding it and were experiencing updates and new game features around the same time. I didn’t have to go into great detail to reference something, and could just start to write my opinion or topic without laying a lot of groundwork before-hand.
Besides the easier setting for writing, I learned a number of key concepts with that first blog. I learned that consistency is one of the main keys to having a successful blog and you are more likely to retain interest and readers if you have a post on a regular basis.
Consistency in posts doesn’t occur unless you have some discipline in how you write. I think the biggest skill that I improved upon with Muradin Musings was learning how to actually just sit down and write on a regular basis. I learned how to get into the habit of thinking about the everyday things that were going on around me, and how I would communicate that into a post.
That’s not to say I’ve mastered the art of discipline. Far from it! I’ve always been one of those freeform, free-spirited kind of people and it’s very hard for me to stay within the confines of a definition.
In fact, I remember a birthday card my mom gave me once that had a rainbow of scribbles overlaying a drawing of a butterfly and said, “To my daughter who colors outside the lines.” I thought it suited me perfectly.
Another lesson that I’ve learned is that you can’t rely too heavily on what other people think of you. I’ve mentioned before that writing and being creative can put a person in a very vulnerable place. There’s a sense of exposure when you’re putting your heart and thoughts on the line for others to see, read and, ultimately, to judge.
If I let myself get too caught up in the feedback and become so reliant on positive reinforcement, then when it’s not forthcoming, what will I do? I can’t let that be the fuel that I need in order to write.
The other side of that coin is, if there is criticism and negative comments, I can’t allow myself to be so exposed to it that it makes me completely throw in the towel and give up, either.
I’m afraid that if I allow myself to depend too heavily on acknowledgement, I’ll be using approval as a crutch for my own ability to write. Maybe that illustrates my own fear that, at any point, the rug could be swept out from under me.
This is not to say that I don’t absolutely love comments and hearing from readers. It’s always a thrill when I see the happy orange box in the top right corner of my WordPress dashboard!
I admit, sometimes it’s difficult to remind myself of this lesson. Especially after I’ve written a post I’m particularly fond of and have spent a lot of time on. How many times have I checked my stats page or hoped to find a comment waiting for me?
I think the challenge is finding a balance between being confident and self-motivated, and allowing myself to be vulnerable and open to feedback. Interacting with people and making a connection is why we publish, afterall. Otherwise, we’d all be sitting at home writing in our diaries and no one would be the wiser.
However, just as a thought of caution, I think there should be a certain amount of distance maintained between wanting approval and needing approval, in order to keep a creative spirit healthy and independent.
As writers and creators, we need to be able to stand on our own convictions and sense of self-worth first. Anything else is icing on the cake!